Julie’s Most Recent Book
Hell on Wheels
Praise for Julie Ann Walker:
Julie Ann Walker grew up in a house full of women. As soon as she learned to read, her mother signed her up for a book club, and she fell in love with the written word.
Despite her attachment to literature, she taught advanced math in high school to stretch her intellectual capabilities. But she had her days when she wished there was snow on the ground to cancel class, so she could go to her local bookstore, buy two or three books, and curl up to read all day.
Julie took the step into writing full-time after she and her husband (and their Labrador retriever) moved to Chicago. When she isn’t writing, she likes to camp, hike, bike, cook, travel, and, of course, read.
What her editor says:
“If you love Suzanne Brockmann (like me!), I really think you’re going to dig Black Knights, Inc., too. These guys have a fabulous sense of humor in some seriously dangerous situations.”
Julie Ann Walker, “Jules” to her friends, is proud to be making her debut on Discover a New Love. Her first novel Hell on Wheels has garnered excellent reviews including “Walker is ready to join the ranks of great romantic suspense writers” by RT Book Reviews and “[A] riveting debut...” from Publishers Weekly. While she describes herself as a down-home girl at heart, our recent conversation left us a bit dizzy from the fast-paced and fun discussion about her background and her new series. We hope you enjoy getting to know a little bit more about Jules.
DANL: Thanks for sitting down with us. I have to say we’ve been looking forward to this interview for some time. Our first question seems kind of silly but your name on your book seems so formal. Do you go by Julie Ann, Julie, or something else?
JAW: My friends call me “Jules.”
DANL: Can you tell us a little bit about your background? Where did you grow up, get your education, where do you live now, are you married, have children, pets, etc?
JAW: I grew up in rural Oklahoma riding horses, chasing cows, and catching fireflies. You’d never know it given that my books are set on the fast-paced, urban streets of Chicago, but I’m nothing if not a down-home girl at heart. I still love iced tea. I can bait and hook a mean fishing pole. And the occasional “y’all” still slips into my speech.
I received my degree in mathematics (you read that right, mathematics; what was I thinking?) from Oklahoma State University where I met an engineering geek who made my heart go pitter-patter. (I married him, by the way.) Currently, the hubs and I live in downtown Chicago with our lovable, mostly deaf, certainly overweight, and terribly needy fifteen-year-old Labrador Retriever.
DANL: How and when did you first discover romance novels?
JAW: How did I discover romance novels? By sneaking into my mother’s and older sisters’ bookshelves and pilfering their stash.
DANL: Do you remember the first romance novel you read?
JAW: How could I forget? Temptation by Charlotte Lamb. It was one of those old Harlequin Presents numbers. You know the ones with the funky 80’s covers? Oh, my gosh! Young love, ruthlessness, revenge! It had everything my pubescent heart could hope for. It was the first time I fell in love with a literary hero - not the last, by far - and I remember comparing all the boys at school to see which one most resembled Joss. Not surprisingly, none seemed to measure up.
DANL: When did you start writing romance novels, and what inspired you to start writing?
JAW: I’ve always written. In high school I was the editor of my school paper, but once I got to college I thought I needed a challenge - hence the math degree. As for what inspired me write initially, I’d have to give credit where credit is due. I owe it all to me dear ol’ mama. She enrolled me in a book club the moment I hesitantly sounded out my first word and fed me a steady diet of delicious literature from that day forward. And since I loved to read
so much, writing my own stories felt pretty natural. I began jotting down my thoughts at a very young age. But I didn’t truly set out to write anything publishable until a couple of years ago and, baby, has it been one heck of a ride ever since!
DANL: You note that it’s been a heck of a ride. What’s the story behind how you got your first novel published? Is there an interesting story to tell?
JAW: Interesting? I don’t know about that. It happened in the usual way. I entered and placed in a writing contest, sent out some queries, was contacted by a lovely agent who agreed to represent me, and the rest in history.
DANL: Really? You make it sound too easy. How did you find your literary agent?
JAW: I found my literary agent through the contest and query process. She knew one of the judges of the contest who’d raved about my entry, so when my query came across her desk, she asked for the full. A couple days later we were signing contracts.
DANL: So it really has been a quick ride for you. How did you go about getting your novel accepted by the publisher?
JAW: As for how she got my novel accepted by a publisher? One word: saleswoman. My agent is da B.O.M.B! (I know; you wanted something funny or angst-y. Sorry to disappoint. My publishing journey has been a bit of a whirlwind. Not that I’m complaining. No. Never.)
DANL: Given the quick start to your writing career, do you have any “author advice” you would share with aspiring writers?
JAW: Only this: “To be a good writer, you must write. And write. And write some more.” My journey to publication once I decided to start submitting my work was very fast. But I think it only happened that way because I had a lifetime of writing already under my belt.
DANL: Let’s talk a bit about your books. Your debut novel, Hell on Wheels, is receiving excellent reviews so far. How would you describe your writing style? What type of research do you do for your books?
JAW: My writing style is chaotic at best. I’m a bit of a pantser and a bit of a plotter. Some books I do one more than the other and vice versa. It all depends on how the story unfolds for me. As for research, for the BKI series, I had to get good at military lingo, weaponry, military hierarchies, etc. Luckily, I volunteer regularly at the USO, and anytime I have a question about any of the above, there is a service-man or service-woman ready and willing to share their knowledge. I also love Internet message boards about the military. Those places are invaluable when it comes to figuring out how soldiers speak to one another.
DANL: Is there something unique or different about your writing that people may not know?
JAW: Much to my editor’s chagrin, I’m a total pop-culturist and it definitely shows in my writing. When reading my stuff, look for tidbits about current events, smash television shows, Internet memes, etc.
DANL: What is your idea of the perfect romance novel?
JAW: A hero and heroine who have some form of tumultuous history together, a bad guy who needs to be brought to justice, lots of action—in and out of the boudoir—and, of course, a happily-ever-after.
DANL: Your first three books are coming out pretty quickly. Would we find you taking a break, or are you already back to writing?
JAW: Currently I’m working on the fourth book in the Black Knights Inc. series. It starts out in the jungles of Costa Rica, and, baby, you better believe it is steeeeaaammmyy!
DANL: Since your first book is just coming out this question might be harder, but what has been your favorite or most memorable moment as an author?
JAW: At my husband’s twenty-year high school reunion (just to clarify, he’s that old; I’m not! ;-) ), one of his classmates, a complete stranger, came up to me and screamed, “Oh my god! I just ordered your book!” It was my five minutes of fame. I could soooo totally get used to that.
DANL: That is a great moment. Any other memorable experiences or feedback from your readers you would be willing to share?
JAW: So far, it’s mostly been book reviewers and bloggers who’ve commented on my work. But they’re so wonderful. As an avid reader myself, I know what it is to sit down and get lost in a good book. And it’s beyond fabulous when people contact me and tell me my story consumed them from page one.
DANL: If you were to write a novel that did not focus on romance, what would you write?
JAW: Thrillers. Definitely thrillers. I love writing about bad guys, flying bullets, and brutal murders. (Please don’t start measuring me for a straightjacket. It’s all in good fun, I promise... *evil laugh*)
DANL: Maybe you could be the next John Grisham! Why do you think romance has continued to be the best-selling genre in American literature?
JAW: It’s a story about the most basic human condition... the ability and desire to fall in romantic love and the hope that that love will last forever. What’s more moving than that?
DANL: Okay, now we are moving into the rapid-fire section of our questions, kind of like Twenty Questions, but we’re not counting. (1) Who currently are your favorite romance authors?
JAW: There isn’t enough time to list them all. So I’ll break it down to my favs for each genre. For contemporary, it doesn’t get much better than Susan Elizabeth Phillips. For paranormal, I must say J.R. Ward. Give me some Sabrina Jeffries when it comes to historicals. And I have to give a shout-out to the reigning queen of military romantic suspense herself, Ms. Suzanne Brockmann.
DANL: What is currently your favorite romance novel(s)?
JAW: Of all time? Yeesh, that’s a hard one. But I’d have to say Slow Heat in Heaven by Sandra Brown. For some reason, even twenty years after its publication, I still go to my bookshelf and reach for that book. Soooo good. The hero? Cash? *fans self*
DANL: What is the last romance novel you’ve read (not your own)?
JAW: Born to Darkness by Suzanne Brockmann. And, yes, my TBR pile has reached critical mass. The only downside to being a full-time writer is I don’t get to read nearly as much as I’d like to.
DANL: What book would we find on your nightstand now?
JAW: Actually, it’s a compilation of poems by Ralph Waldo Emerson. I adore poetry. I can’t write it to save my life, which is probably why I enjoy reading the work of those who can...
DANL: Who is the most recent author you’ve fallen in love with, and how did you discover them?
JAW: Tes Hilaire. She’s a fellow Sourcebooks author. I met her at a conference last year but didn’t get around to reading Deliver Me from Darkness until a couple of months ago. I loved her as a person before; she’s just as sweet as she can be. But now I love her writing, too
DANL: Can you name your top five authors?
JAW: Suzanne Brockmann, J.R. Ward, Sandra Brown, Stephen King, and John Grisham.
DANL: What is your favorite book of all time?
JAW: I loved, absolutely LOVED—and still love—Gone with the Wind. I’ve read it at least a dozen times.
DANL: What was the last book you read that really moved you?
JAW: Okay, so I’m totally behind the times here. But I hadn’t read To Kill a Mockingbird until last year. And, boy-oh-boy, did I ever boo-hoo.
DANL: Is there a book you feel has changed your life?
JAW: Hmm. Atlas Shrugged gave me a new perspective on politics. I’m not saying which way it made me lean more toward...
DANL: Can you name the last book you bought just for the cover?
JAW: Finders Keepers by Linnea Sinclair. Two hot aliens and a couple of spaceships? I’m in! (Raising my hand and claiming my secure position in the upper echelons of Trekkies.)
DANL: What was your favorite book when you were a child?
JAW: I loved the Ramona and Beezus series by Beverly Cleary. I devoured those novels.
DANL: What is your favorite line from a book you’ve read?
JAW: "The boy was like Godiva to teenage girl chocoholics." — Sandra Hill
DANL: Have you had any other interesting jobs in the past?
JAW: I’ve waitressed, mowed lawns, babysat, been a sandwich maker, a fry cook, a Hallmark card saleswoman, a bartender, and a high-school teacher.
DANL: If you had to choose a favorite character or moment from one of your novels, what would it be and why?
JAW: Becky “Rebel” Reichert is my all-time favorite character so far. She’s just so spunky. She doesn’t take any guff from anyone, even the big, bad-ass spec-ops men who work with her.
DANL: Okay, last quick-fire question. Can you name the book you most want to read again for the first time?
JAW: Hmm. That’s a hard one. But it’s been years since I’ve read Stephen King’s IT, and just the other day I was considering dragging it off the shelf. I don’t remember a ton about the plot, but I do remember it scaring the bejeezus out of me, and for some reason, recently, I’ve been in the mood for a good horror story.
DANL: You noted earlier that romance is one of the most basic human conditions. What is the most romantic experience you’ve had in your life?
JAW: My husband played my favorite song on his guitar—the one I’d been begging him to learn for nearly a year—right before he proposed to me.
DANL: Obviously it worked. What is the most romantic thing someone could do for you?
JAW: Whisk me away for a surprise vacation. I don’t care where. Just tell me, “Jules, you’ve got an hour to pack and then we’re outta here!” I love to travel and I like spontaneity. Combine the two and I’m in!
DANL: We have to say we adore traveling too. If you could travel anywhere in the world, right now, where would you go?
JAW: Since I’m writing a story about Costa Rica, I’d love for that to be my next destination.
DANL: Do you have a favorite place you have visited?
JAW: My hubby and I are trying to get into the Century Travelers Club. To do that we have visit one hundred different countries. We’re still very far away from that goal, but we have had the extreme good fortune to be able to travel to some pretty spectacular places. Naming just one is difficult, but I have a soft spot for Prague. The city looks like a fairytale. It’s just lovely.
DANL: One hundred countries would be fabulous and is quite the goal! Since we’re talking romance... if time travel were possible and you could live in a historical time or place, where and when would it be?
JAW: I think Victorian England is a very romantic time period. Of course, I’d only want to live there and then if I could be a titled Lady. I expect life was very difficult for the common man and woman.
DANL: Can you give us a short list of your favorite “everything” (i.e. food, drink, color, animal, romance character’s name, romance novel title, etc.)?
JAW: Food: I make a mean Mediterranean pasta dish that has sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, scallions, and goat cheese. It’s divine. I could live off of it. Drink: Coffee. I can’t live without coffee. Color: I adore red. It’s just so visceral and vibrant. Animal: I’m a dog-lover. But I have a soft spot for just about any furry creature. Romance character’s name: Rock Babineaux. He’s the hero in my fourth book. And I just adore everything about him, including his name. Romance novel title: Lover Unbound by J.R. Ward. Something about the imagery that title evokes just blows my hair back.
DANL: Do you have any other “indulgence item” that you would be willing to share your readers?
JAW: I, ehem, once bungee jumped naked.
DANL: Ummm, well then. Next question. What other things do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
JAW: Can I take the easy way out and make a list? Reading, camping, hiking, cooking, traveling, drinking coffee, drinking wine, riding my bike, walking my dog, drinking coffee... Did I mention I drink a lot of coffee?
DANL: And finally, we believe in giving back to our communities… Do you have a favorite charity you like to support?
DANL: Those are both fabulous causes, particularly the Wounded Warrior Project. One last question: where can your readers find out more about you or follow you online? And thanks again for taking the time for this interview! It’s been a lot of fun.
Walker is ready to join the ranks of great romantic suspense writers.”
—RT Book Reviews, 4½ Stars
[A] riveting debut... This first-rate thrill ride leads to a satisfying emotional payoff that neatly sets up the next book.”
—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
Edgy, alpha and downright HOT, the Black Knights Inc. will steal your breath... and your heart.”
—Catherine Mann, USA Today Bestselling Author
Well written and steamy... Cindy Gerard and Tara Janzen fans will get a kick out of this series.”
A great mixture of action, romance and suspense and lots of fun! ”
—NetGalley Reader Review
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